STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Once Kiana Williams and Stanford found a rhythm after halftime and began taking better care of the ball, Washington could no longer keep up.
Yet the scrappy Huskies stuck right in there for long enough against a top team to show they will be a tough opponent in the Pac-12 Conference.
Williams keyed a decisive stretch late in the third quarter with three quick baskets to finish with 20 points and nine assists, leading No. 5 Stanford to a 77-56 win against Washington on Sunday.
“I’m proud of how we came out in the second half, we were a completely different team," Williams said.
Lexie Hull added nine points, 11 rebounds and three steals, Hannah Jump contributed 17 points off the bench while fellow freshman Haley Jones had 11 points and blocked three shots as the Cardinal (13-1, 2-0 Pac-12) won their third consecutive game since the team's lone defeat at Texas on Dec. 22.
Amber Melgoza scored 17 points on 7-for-15 shooting for Washington (10-4, 2-1) but missed her three 3-point tries and committed five turnovers.
Fans were in for a postgame treat, too. After the final buzzer, Stanford's players joined the adult dancing group for an impromptu performance at midcourt. They even pulled Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer out to take part in the postgame fun.
“Tara told us to stay out there and it just happened," Jones said. “We all knew the song, ‘Cupid Shuffle.' We had to pull Tara out there. She wasn't coming out there on her own."
The Pac-12 coaches have been saying for months how balanced the conference is, and Washington showed why with a scrappy performance despite digging itself a big hole early on Stanford's home floor at Maples Pavilion.
The Cardinal opened the third quarter with an 8-1 run after the teams went into halftime tied at 32 then began to pull away late in the period helped by Williams' 3-pointer at the 1:58 mark then another jumper at 1:03 before she made a layup with 21 seconds remaining.
Williams finished 8 for 12 from the floor and also had two steals.
“The key for us today was Kiana. She attacked the basket, hit shots, made some great defensive plays for us,” VanDerveer said. “Basically played the whole game and did a really good job for us being aggressive.”
Melgoza was coming off a 31-point performance in which she shot 13 for 25 as Washington edged California 67-64 on Friday night but was the Huskies’ lone player to score in double figures. Darcy Rees added 12 points Sunday.
“We believe that we can play on the road," Washington coach Jody Wynn said. “Starting off three games on the road and going away with two wins, if you had told me that in October I would have said ‘I’ll take it.'"
The Cardinal, who shot 46.8% in Friday’s win over Washington State and 9 of 22 on 3s, shot 50% and overcame a sloppy first half but also scored 30 points off Washington's 19 turnovers.
Stanford jumped to a 9-0 lead making four of its first seven shots but Washington capitalized on Stanford's struggles taking care of the ball and briefly went ahead on Haley Van Dyke's 3-pointer at the 5:30 mark of the second quarter.
The Cardinal have won the last seven meetings in the series and are 29-4 against the Huskies at home.
ANOTHER MILESTONE NEARS
VanDerveer improved to 499-78 in regular-season conference play. She needs one more to become the first women’s basketball coach with 500 in a single league — as Geno Auriemma of Connecticut has his victories split between the AAC and Big East.
Washington: The Huskies have lost nine of the past 11 meetings with Stanford. ... Washington was outrebounded for a second straight game. The Huskies got outboarded 45-35 at Cal after holding a two-rebound edge in beating Washington State then were at a 38-29 rebounding disadvantage Sunday ... The Huskies dropped to 3-1 on the road.
Stanford: Stanford's reserves scored 27 points. ... The Cardinal committed seven of their 17 turnovers in the opening quarter and 11 by halftime. ... The Cardinal are 10-0 at home in Maples.
Washington: Hosts rival Washington State on Saturday after earning a 65-56 win at Pullman to open conference play Dec. 29. It will be the Huskies' first home game since Dec. 21.
Stanford: Hosts Bay Area rival California on Friday night in a two-game weekend series that shifts to Berkeley next Sunday.